An aerial view of the Family Focus building in the former Foster School. (Google Maps image)

Evanston’s Housing and Community Development Committee is scheduled to make recommendations Tuesday on two requests for federal American Rescue Plan Act funding totaling $4 million.

Family Focus is seeking $3 million to fund about a quarter of a planned renovation of the former Foster School building it owns on Dewey Avenue in the 5th Ward.

And it’s lined up letters of support from 30 people — ranging from clients of its programs and leaders of other non-profit organization, some of which are tenants in the building, to local political figures, including U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky.

A collaboration of three non-profits — the Center for Neighborhood TechnologyElevate and the Evanston Development Cooperative — is seeking $1 million to launch a pilot program to provide a “One Stop Shop” for energy efficiency retrofits for up to 50 homes in three low-income census tracts in the city over the next two years.

The city has received letters supporting that project from the League of Women Voters, Environmental Justice Evanston, Latinos en Evanston NorthShore and Connections for the Homeless.

When the projects were first presented to the committee last month, committee members raised questions about limited detail in the Family Focus proposal, and the organization has provided additional information to respond to that.

The group has also increased the total projected budget to $12.4 million from $11.1 million to cover demolition and construction costs for planned phase two work to optimize tenant and community spaces in the building.

It expects to raise the rest of the money needed for the project from state and federal grants and philanthropic sources.

The energy efficiency retrofits project came in for some criticism about whether it might contributed to gentrification by making housing units more desirable.

The groups seeking the ARPA funds say they’re still trying to work out solutions to that issue — but are considering requiring landlords receiving assistance from the program to commit to rent freezes. or other measures.

Final approval of the funding requests is up to the City Council, but four of the council’s nine members sit on the Housing and Community Development Committee.

The online meeting of the committee is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday.


Update 6/22/22: The committee voted to approve both grant requests, and the plans now move on the the City Council for final action.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Leave a comment

The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published.